Task 7: Tonal Portrait Drawing

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.

This task is about creating a portrait. In earlier posts I talk more about the ‘self portrait’ and how to create an artwork that has some personal meaning and content.

This time however I will keep it simple.

Today portraiture is a healthy and vital discipline in the art world.

While there are quite a few non-traditional approaches out there, many artists are returning to traditional techniques to address contemporary issues, and more people are painting portraits than ever. So with this in mind, I will return to the Renaissance to help you to start discovering how the masters became the artists we have all heard of today.

Just think in those days when amazing Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures began to be excavated, how excited artists would have been!? To see marble, carved so perfectly from so many years before- they finally saw they had a lot to learn.

The Renaissance is known as ‘born again’ time… everyone got hooked on Greek Mythology as if the Greeks has been ‘born again’, but this time, in Italy.

In simple terms, many artists were copying the raw emotion within expressions found on these sculptures. This, as well as copying the perfect proportions of these figures, helped them to learn about drawing the human form.

They were learning from the best… the Ancient Greeks!

Below is a resource of images that could be used to draw from. In my demonstration I use charcoal to draw ‘The Dying Gaul’. I think from drawing sculptures in real life is the best way, but having great tonal photographs is the next best thing.

Resource: Portraiture-from the beginning

You can learn a lot about the stories of the characters found in Ancient Sculpture, but also looking at the Renaissance sculptors themselves and their amazing work, can help to teach you about proportion and capturing emotion in your drawings.

Michelangelo’s David for instance. That intense stare of David, the detailed veins and muscles that can be seen in his hand, chest and neck… by observing and drawing from such art works will help you to build up your technical skills.

So take your pick and get exploring!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


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